Lovin' time at Coon Hollow Farm

Lovin' time at Coon Hollow Farm
Our Olde English "Babydoll" Sheep and their lambs

Friday, June 24, 2016

Well hello there!

The baby chicks are growing and doing well. Out of 20 we have 18, healthy growing chickens. I have had my eye on this one for the past couple of weeks. Where I bought them they were guaranteed to be hens, with 4 roosters already the back yard gets deafening. That was when I looked at this guy and said "hello there"! We got another rooster, I am sure of it!

This is "him" on the left and a young pullet Buff Orphington on the right.

Just look at the comparison of the feet from a pullet right next to him!

So for now to give him a name, he will look over his flock and grow to protect his girls!

Monday, June 20, 2016

The Queens are free!

A check on the Queens on Saturday netted one out and doing well but the second hive she was no where to be found! She was out of her cage but gone! I ripped that hive apart from top to bottom and no queen. I was not sure what happened to her, did they kill her, did something kill her or was she not mated and went out for a breeding flight? The answer must have been the last one because when I checked back today there she was!

I marked both queens but got a little overzealous! The new queen cage I bought has smaller holes and is very hard to get down to the queens back. One I almost blinded with paint in her eye! So we can only hope from here that these queens are productive and we can have a successful honeybee season!

Friday, June 17, 2016

Queen recheck...

These bees are going to be the death of me! I went in early this morning for a recheck on the status on the release of our queens and nothing! They are still in the cages, the workers have done little to nothing to get them out so it was time to give them a little help.

With a piece of heavy wire this time, I cleaned the sugar plug out and waited for them to emerge. I waited and waited, but the workers cleaned up the hole even better and were going in and out trying to coax them out.

I did catch this wonderful moment, the workers feeding the queen thru the cage. These will more than likely be her attendants when she does finally emerge from her cage. Another check in the morning will have me breaking them open if they do not come out by then. Come on girls! You need to get busy!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Checking on the Queens

Today is the 4th day since the installation of our two new queens. Two days ago I removed the tape to allow them to chew the sugar blocking the hole which will release the queen. The first hive showed some activity but the second hive didn't even begin.

Taking a paper clip end...

I pushed some holes into the sugar loosing it up and making it a little easier for them to get them out. They are showing positive interest in their new queens. I witnessed them feeding them through the cage which is a very positive sign. No aggressive behavior which is also a very positive sign!
Thank you for reading my blog which also serves as a journal of the goings on here on the farm!

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Fiber Prep: Making Punis

While exploring different ways to prep fiber, I came across some techniques on fiber prep, making punis! Punis are more compact than rolags and seem to spin a bit better. Now you can pull out your drum carder or you can take out your hand carders to make these simple punis. You can do this on a trip, during a time you will be sitting idle for a while or just in your spare time. I choose some angora rabbit wool (on the left from Tawny) and some white alpaca (on the right) to blend.

Alternately layer your fiber and wool, catching it on the teeth of your carder.

Begin to card holding the one in your left hand that has the wool handle up (If you are left handed you would do it opposite). The other carder will be handle down and begin  to brush.

Soon you will have fiber on both carders all aligned in the same direction.

I was actually at the Colonial Home I work at for an Open House when I took these photos during a rain storm, that explains my floral dress! I am sitting very unlady like straddled on a bench.
So at this point you will place the handle of the carders between your legs to hold them, take two very long knitting needles or dowels...

Place one in front of your fiber and the second one behind it. I tried many techniques, viewed some different videos, looked up different sites and gathered many altering opinions and found this worked for me. At this point begin to roll, not too tight towards you.

As I roll I pull ever so slightly separating some of the fibers, elongating them just a bit until I get to the end. You will find that the top will be somewhat "hooked" with the fibers wrapped around the top teeth. I pull it off and brush them back ever so slightly, straightening them out.

And there you go, some punis ready for spinning!

Friday, June 10, 2016

The tale of two queens

Today I went to Bee Commerce in Newtown, CT and purchased these two queens along with some attendants. With one hive struggling with a weak queen and the other split that has refused to raise a queen it was time to bring in some queens. This is something I have never had to do before. In all my years of beekeeping the bees have always come through with raising their own queens. This year however, the bees just have a mind of their own!

So I installed both queens into each hive. As suggested I taped the top so they don't get them out of the queen cage too fast. I will check in on them in a couple of days and see how things are going. These bees always keep you on your toes!!!

Monday, June 6, 2016

Spinning black mohair goodness

Last year I bought this fleece at a Fiber Festival I was a vendor at. I had bought a fleece from the same person the year before and it was fabulous and priced very fairly too!

The fleece bag was close to 5 pounds so away I spun...

and spun and spun...

and spun!!!

So far it has netted 3 skeins with a lot more on the wheel and a bunch more in the bag, I am going to spin some a little thicker for some weaving projects I have in mind. Just a beautiful fleece made into some gorgeous yarn!

Sunday, June 5, 2016

An Apiary split

This year our bee yard seems to be split down the middle. The three hives on the left (above) are thriving and doing so well. The hive on the right is what we call "The Beast". An amazing hard working queen with her workers to match. The hive on the farthest left is Kisha's hive and it is a split from "The Beast". It is strong and thriving with a laying queen and working workers too!

And then we have the hives on the right. The hive on the left was over wintered and continues to struggle. The others are splits from "The Beast" that are chugging along like the engine that could! Each year, beekeeping brings it's certain challenges, this year appears to be one of them!

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Happy bunny 1st birthday!!!

Happy 1st birthday to our not so baby angoras, "Peachy" on the left and "Chester" on the right. I can't believe it's been a year already. These two produce the most amazing wool! Believe it or not they have just recently been sheared. Such puffballs with different personalities too. She is fresh and awnry and he is sweet and so laid back. Also a shoot out to their brother and two sisters too! Gotta love them!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Bottling Vanilla goodness

I had a batch of vanilla brewing on the counter and it was time to bottle it and begin a new batch. The smell was unbelievable, strong and sweet. Even baking with it taste so much better than store bought watered down versions. It is so much better!

As we gear up for Fair season and get our stock replenished, these will add a wonderful aroma to the studio room!

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

DId you know worms love paper?!!!

Did you know, worms love paper?!!! We got a lot of old documents...

to shred. We are Spring cleaning and have a lot to get rid of. Somehow it just piles up. Only shred paper though, not plastic! Window envelopes should never be shredded as the plastic will make the worms sick! They cannot digest plastic.

We take the shredded paper and turn it into the compost bin. The worms just love it! It also helps your compost bin from getting too wet, absorbing the water, The worms then turn this into beautiful black gold! Just another way to be sustainable and responsible for our earth!

Monday, May 30, 2016

Blessing on this Memorial Day!

Coon Hollow Farm wishes everyone a Happy and Safe Memorial Day Holiday, as we all pause to remember our Veterans and their sacrifices.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Pick your eggs today!

We have an array of eggs in different colors and in extra large sizes! Just $3.00 a dozen ! We are home for the weekend, it's the driveway with the bird house!!!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Well looky there!

Today I looked in on the bees and look what I found! This was actually in "The Beast" hive, doing what bees do this time of year, attempting to swarm! I accidently broke open one of the queen cells, but if you look right under it, there is another. I moved this over to one of my hives that is struggling a bit. They have a terrible queen in there and I have just been waiting to find some queen cells to replace her. So with a little hope that this little girl or one of the others on the other side is strong and kills the older queen and take over this hive and save it. The other cells above also look to be queens along with some drone cells. Fingers crossed!!!

Monday, May 16, 2016

The undaunting task of grooming the angora rabbit

Spring here in Connecticut doesn't seem like it wants to warm up. So grooming the rabbits who live downstairs, not outside, been put off because it has just been too cold. The hard part is they will matt if I put it off too long. These two girls above need loose those wool coats.

"Tawny" was first on the schedule. Her staple length can be as long as 8 inches. She is a broken chocolate Vienna marked English Angora. Her wool is just gorgeous!

Half way through the process and still so much to go. It's not easy trying to groom a moving target! You also have to be careful not to stress them. When my bunnies come in for a hug I know it's time to stop and give them a break.

Her she is somewhat completed. She wasn't have it  so we will revisit her in a few days and clean her up.

Next on to "Fluffer" who is a sweet boy and so much easier. This priceless wool is worth every step of effort!

Friday, May 13, 2016

We call her "The Beast"

When you open a hive, this is what you are hoping to see! Lots of bees! In this picture they are up in the feeder, lots of them!

We already have a queen excluder on because she is everywhere!

Frames like this one make up the hive. Capped brood, larvae stages and lots of eggs everywhere you look. This frame has brood in the center with honey stores capped and ready to go to feed. Many of the frames looked like this one, with end frames consisting of all honey stores. A very healthy hive doing what bees should do!

As I was inspecting the hive I found her, "The Beast"!!! I placed her in a queen marker for her safety as I was going through the hive. Never can be too careful with her majesty! While I had her out I brushed up her mark of white. This mark indicates she is a 2016 queen and makes it all that much easier to find her amongst thousands of bees.

This was a very sweet shot, after I released her they appear to be comforting her, cleaning her and feeding her before she gets back to work!

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Wild Edibles, they are everywhere!

When you see this plant in the Spring, you can eat it! When the tops are flowering, the plant is in it's second year and is ready for harvest. This is Garlic Mustard, an invasive plant.

I gather the plants, wash them, dry them...

toss them into a food processor with some olive oil, chopped walnuts, parmesan cheese, a little lemon juice, some garlic salt, salt and pepper. I add a little bit of this and a little bit of that until I get the desired texture and taste.

The finished product. Place it over pasta or just use it as a dip. I find this pesto much better than basil pesto!

Lavender and Rose Water cookies with wild violets are also a favorite this time of year.

I also baked a lamb's quarter quiche for today. I am teaching a class on wild edibles today. We have much to feast on as we explore all the wild edibles that are so abundant this time of year! So get out, explore and eat what Nature has to provide for us!